Shipping vessel approaches Indian govt, says under duress in Chittagong

A shipping vessel, MV Tomini Destiny, and its crew have approached the Indian government complaining that they are under duress due to unsafe offloading operations in Chittagong in Bangladesh.

“The Master and crew have been forced to write direct to the flag State administration, the Indian Government and Indian Unions due to the alleged conduct towards them by their management in raising their concerns for discharge, while the owner has allegedly threatened “disciplinary action of termination of the services of full complement” if they do not allow stevedores onboard,” said a statement by Human Rights at Sea.

Human Rights at Sea has received a formal letter dated March 31 from the Master of the Marshall Islands flagged vessel, the MV Tomini Destiny in this regard.

“The letter is signed by all 22 crew, raising serious concerns about the conduct of owners and charterers deemed to be harassment and intimidation relating to their asserted unsafe offloading operations at Chittagong, Bangladesh, and a lack of COVID-19 screening of stevedores, and adequate protection for the crew,” Human Rights at Sea said in statement.

The signed, vessel stamped and dated letter identifies the Owners as Tomini Transports LLC and the Charterers as Western Bulk Carriers A/S.

The statement said that the concerns first raised internally to the owners and charterers focused on the continuation of vessel offload operations without sufficient safeguards in place for the crew, with correct and not sub-standard PPE, and the ability to limit external persons coming onboard during the discharge period, over whom they have no control over in terms of potential COVID exposure.

Importantly, it is stated that the ships agent has confirmed there is no screening for COVID-19 for the stevedores who would come onboard.

The Master highlights in his letter that: “We, the full complement of the Tomini Destiny are under enormous pressure, fatigue and mental stress due to owners and charterers insisting to perform shipboard operations under duress.”